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The Social Order of the UnderworldHow Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System$
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David Skarbek

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199328499

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199328499.001.0001

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Governance in the Society of Captives

Governance in the Society of Captives

(p.75) 4 Governance in the Society of Captives
The Social Order of the Underworld

David Skarbek

Oxford University Press

Prison gangs operate in a community responsibility system, where all members are responsible for the actions of any member. Each gang is responsible for its own member. In a setting of impersonal exchange not characterized by trusting individuals, this provides the assurance that underlies a flourishing market in drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, and other contraband. Gangs adjudicate social conflicts and provide alternative dispute resolution services. They have an incentive to keep the peace so that they can continue to earn profits by selling contraband. Prison gangs go so far as to write down detailed guidelines on the appropriate behavior of inmates.

Keywords:   community responsibility system, contraband, prison gangs, impersonal exchange, assurance, trust, social conflict, alternative dispute resolution

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